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Nuts for our brain, and other health benefits

Nuts for our brain, and other health benefits

In the Netherlands we have a snack called Studentenhaver, which roughly translates as Student oats. This is a mix of walnuts, cashew nuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, raisins and sometimes other dried fruits. This mix is supposed to enhance intelligence, hence the name.

We supplement our food with lots of nuts, not because it would increase our intelligence, but because of all the benefits nuts contain. We rarely eat meat, which is another reason to eat nuts. Although the main reason is that they are delicious. We love nuts.

Like seeds, nuts are a great source of vitamins, minerals and Omega-3 fatty acids. They strengthen our immune system. Although, depending on your body it might be better to avoid certain nuts. I’ll tell you in this article which ones.

Research about nuts was nuts?

Eating a handful of nuts daily, according to research published in BMC Medicine, helps to reduce the “… risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality, and mortality from respiratory disease, diabetes, and infections.”

The researchers concluded that people who ate a handful (20 grams) of any nuts daily were nearly 30 percent less likely to suffer from heart disease. In addition, their chance of getting cancer was 15 percent lower and their chance of dying prematurely was 22 percent lower. In addition, individuals who regularly eat nuts were half the risk of dying from a respiratory illness, and the risk of diabetes decreased by nearly 40 percent.

Despite nuts being high in calories and fats, the other benefits are huge. 20 Grams is sufficient, because eating more does not further increase the positive effects.

7 Favorite nuts and 1 we avoid

Walnuts do look like a brain

Raw, unsalted and organic is the best version of all described nuts. Heating reduces the nutrients. However, some say that roasting without oil counteracts certain allergic reactions. As is often the case with food, you cannot make a firm statement in black or white about this.

If you really don’t like raw nuts, roast them yourself:

  • Put them on the baking tray of the oven, without adding oil;
  • Select the lowest temperature setting of the grill and place the baking tray low in the oven; 
  • Jiggle the baking tray occasionally, so that the other side of the nuts is also roasted;
  • Stay around because they will burn before you know it;
  • They are ready when they are a bit darker than the raw nuts.

1. Almonds

Almonds are a huge source of vitamin E, vitamin B2, manganese and phosphorus, as well as magnesium and copper. The most antioxidants are in the brown shell. Almonds are beneficial against heart disease and cholesterol.

Brasil nuts for our immune system

2. Brazil nuts

Just one big Brazil nut provides you with your daily portion of selenium. Selenium is a much-needed antioxidant that can protect your cells and contributes to your immune system. 

3. Cashew nuts

The best ingredient in cashew nuts is the amount of copper they contain. Our body needs the trace element copper to make red blood cells, clear free radicals, develop bone tissue and produce melanin, which is skin and hair pigment.

4. Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts are high in folic acid. Especially for pregnant women it is important that they get enough folic acid. Older people can have mental benefits. Folic acid is said to improve memory. And hazelnuts are also a rich source of vitamin E, copper and manganese. 

5. Pecan nuts

Pecan nuts resemble walnuts in their twisted form. They are sweeter and have a darker color than walnuts. Pecan nuts are rich in zinc and vitamin B1. Zinc plays a role in the immune system and vitamin B1 enables the body to use carbohydrates as energy. Pecan nuts can lower LDL cholesterol and protect your body against cardiovascular disease.

6. Pistachios

Pistachios are one of the healthiest nut types. I eat them because I like them so much, but it is nice that they lower LDL cholesterol as well. If you want to lose weight pistachios are a good choice as well as they are lower in calories than most other nuts. And the polyunsaturated fatty acids in pistachios are very beneficial for burning belly fat.

7. Walnuts

Walnuts are shaped like a brain and are said to be very beneficial for our brain. Years ago I heard of research that was done in India, where the Hindus have walnuts as an important part of their cuisine, that showed fewer people suffered from Alzheimer’s than in our part of the world. I sure hope it’s true, because ever since I have added walnuts to my diet.

Peanuts are not nuts

8. Peanuts

The nuts that aren’t nuts! Peanuts are a kind of legume and grow underground, where nuts grow above the ground in nut trees. Peanuts are a rich source of vitamins B1, B3 and folic acid, but also of Omega-6 fats. Although we do need Omega-6 fats as well, it’s better not to overdo it.

We have another reason as well to avoid eating peanuts. Or at least my husband has. Because peanut is a legume and legumes contain purine Tom skipped them from his diet. He is at risk of gout. Skipping purine containing food has already protected him from a gout attack for 10 years.  

Nuts are not for everyone

Some people are allergic to nuts. Whenever there is a substance you don’t want or can’t have in your food, you will notice how much it is added. I discovered that when I tried a sugar free month prior to my total ban of refined sugar out of my diet. And people with a nut allergy will discover the same.

This article obviously is not meant for those people. And probably you will know – when you are allergic – what to avoid. Things with nut flour and nut oil. Even marzipan and nougat. 

Some closing words

Nuts are very beneficial for your health – given you’re not allergic – and are very tasteful. I eat them at all times of the day. Sometimes in the morning in my almond yogurt breakfast. Or in a salad during lunch. And definitely at the end of the afternoon as I don’t eat dinner and love nuts as a last ‘fill up’ of my stomach. 

When you do eat at night, I can recommend chicken, with mango and cashew nuts. Or a handful of nuts when you watch TV on the sofa.

Eating too many nuts is not healthy but they sure are healthier than a bag of potato chips. 🙂 

Do you like nuts? Tell me in the comment box.

15 thoughts on “Nuts for our brain, and other health benefits”

  1. I’ve heard a lot about the benefits of nuts but I had no idea how they could really help our brain function! Glad we have so many nuts in the house 😉

    Reply
  2. Hi Hannie,

    Yet another fantastic article.

    I must admit I have always known of the health benefits associated with nuts, but even with the fairly healthy lifestyle I lead I have never really been a nut eater.

    In fact, my main source of nuts I have now discovered are legumes (thank for your explanation of peanuts).

    However, I have recently discovered milled seeds and nuts available at our local supermarkets, whereby the healthiest source of nuts and seeds are basically blended to form a powder like substance.

    I like to sprinkle these over my morning porridge and this has now become a daily habit for me over the past few months.

    So, thank you for enlightening me and making me feel better about myself that I am finally getting nuts into my diet.

    Partha

    Reply
    • That’s so great to hear, Partha. Yes, those powders are great and easy to use. I always have the idea they absorb the taste of where you sprinkle it over, but maybe that’s just my imagination.
      Be aware that you as a man are more at risk eating purine rich peanuts than I would be as a woman. Men seem to have a higher risk for gout than women. You’re still young, but better safe than sorry 🙂

      Reply
  3. Brilliant article Hannie.

    My main source of nuts are pistachios. I love the fact that they fill me up and this prevents me from picking. They are indeed lower in calories than most other nuts as you rightly point out.

    Recently, I have been having them after 6pm, I try not to eat but then feel really hungry. I understand this may not be ideal for my health. What do you think?

    Reply
    • Pistachios are delicious, aren’t they, Angie? Just make sure they are salt-free, then you are fine. When we have a goal, like no eating after 6pm, and try to live too strict according to that goal, you might lose the motivation all together. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you eat a handful of nuts after 6pm; it’s not a complete 6 course meal, is it 🙂

      Reply
  4. Hi Hannie. Thank you for sharing this informative article which helps me to have a better understanding what the benefits of different nuts. I love nuts and I have heard nuts are good for our health. But I didn’t really know the benefits details until I came across your article.

    Besides eating nuts, I eat seeds like sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds every morning as well. Yes, I take nuts too to kill my hungry feeling in between meals! The only problem is once I start to eat nuts, I need to make an effort to stop eating before I eat too much. 🙂

    Reply
  5. Very nice article about nuts Hannie!

    I for one love them. Cashew nuts are a staple at our home and some occasional Almonds and Pistachios. I love peanuts too even though I know it may cause gout (uric acid), I know my brother has it, but I am not consuming in excess.

    I agree and I love the way you presented this article and included the benefits of different kinds of nuts in our health.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Lemuel. Do you know if gout can run in the family? I don’t know, to be honest. But as long as you take care – like you do – there won’t be a problem, I guess. 🙂
      The other nuts you mention are my favorites as well. Yummy!

      Reply
  6. I love nuts, especially since I’m vegetarian. I particularly enjoy pistachio nuts, as well as hazelnuts and pecan nuts. As I eat muesli most mornings, I get a fairly good helping of nuts, but also enjoy eating them as a snack during the day. Thank you for pointing out the amazing health benefits of nuts, and how they can lower the chance of some diseases.

    Reply
    • Great to hear you’re vegetarian, Kathy. If you eat no meat etc, or little as I do, than nuts are a great replacement. And your 3 favorites are very healthy and delicious at the same time. What more could we want 🙂

      Reply
  7. Hi Hannie,

    My grandma told me nuts are good for my brain many years ago. So, I ate a lot of “Peanuts”. Now, I think I should try other nuts instead of peanuts because it is not nuts and may not be good for my health if I eat too much. Luckily I saw your article, otherwise, I’ll continue to eat peanuts. Thank you for sharing.

    All the best,

    Alex

    Reply
    • LOL, yes, grandmothers know best 🙂 It is so sweet you mention her as an inspiration, Alex. I hope my grandchildren, of which one is called Alex as well!, will do that too when they are a bit older.
      Take care.

      Reply
  8. This is just great article about benefits of eating nuts. I can not agree more. As being vegetarian (and living in the Netherlands too -;), eating of nuts is very beneficial to my memory and mind power. I didn’t know the benefits like decreasing of the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality, and mortality from respiratory disease, diabetes, and infections. With this in my mind, I am going to be eating it even more -;) Thank you very much and all the best

    Reply
    • As with everything: don’t overdo it, Julius 🙂 Couldn’t help myself by giving some motherly sounding advice, LOL.
      That’s so great, you living in the Netherlands. I did until 3 years ago and live in Spain now!

      Reply

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